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Kimberly Rocca of Kimberly Joy Events + Designs in Fresno lead a team in decorating the White House for Christmas. Image via Facebook

published on December 3, 2020 - 2:37 PM
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A local event planner and her mother got to be a part of the White House Christmas decorating team this year.

Kimberly Rocca of Kimberly Joy Events + Designs in Fresno volunteered in decorating the White House for Christmas.

“Just to walk those marble halls and feel the energy, there’s a fun energy — definitely a buzz,” said Rocca.

She lead a team of eight, including her mother, decorating rooms on the first floor using designs created by First Lady Melania Trump. Many of the rooms are the first one might see on the White House tour, including the library, the Vermeil Room, the Diplomat Room and the doctor’s office, Rocca said.

In the Vermeil Room, former president John F. Kennedy’s portrait was featured on the trees. On the wall hangs a portrait of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

“Her famous portrait is hanging, almost like she’s watching us,” said Rocca.

Every year, the White House gets around 8,000 applications from decorators, said Rocca. With Covid, her event planning business has slowed as the weddings, corporate events and social gatherings she normally handles have been scaled back.

With her normal schedule curtailed, she had the time to apply and go out to Washington D.C. to be part of the team.

Because of Covid, staff at the White House accepted fewer applications. Of the 8,000 applicants, they would normally accept 100-120 people, Rocca was told. This year, they limited it to 80.

Rocca found out she was accepted in October.

Before beginning work, they were all tested for Covid and were masked at all times.

As a planner herself, Rocca said she recognized the level of expertise with which staff executed the decorations.

Everything from waiting in line to the way meals were delivered was carefully planned.

“The history that you are completely surrounded by and the level of expertise — their standards are really high,” Rocca said.

While Rocca did not meet directly with First Lady Melania Trump, First Lady Trump did host a reception for all of the volunteers.

Rocca said she left the experience feeling rejuvenated from collaborating with White House staff as well as others in her industry.

“It was the bright light in 2020 that I think I needed to restart my creativity,” Rocca said.

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